7 Big Questions: A Qualitative Accounting
In the world of business, what's measured is managed, and what is immeasurable is often ignored -- and yet, the immeasurable is often the most valuable and in need of support. There's a handy bottom line to account for concrete profits and losses, but ephemeral wins and losses are harder to fit into a spreadsheet. That means they're pretty much invisible and not so much ignored as never even thought about.
A spin on the missing pieces.
An attempt to rectify this invisibility has been made with the concept of the triple bottom line. In that framework, social and environmental results are pondered along with the economic output of an organization.
Bad math and good intentions.
The people-planet-profit set-up is an interesting public relations page hidden deep inside annual reports, but it's not much more than that. Why? Well, because it's practically impossible to get hard data on things no one really knows how to accurately measure (like feelings). Oh, and factors like environmental damage and paying employees living wages (the planet and people bits of the equation) are often in direct conflict with economic goals of a company. That unromantic tension transforms the triple bottom from line into an ellipses, which, if recorded, would be a lengthy and awkward silence followed by a hearty throat clearing.
And so I offer you a series of questions, to help you articulate your qualitative baseline (which may or may not involve a business enterprise):
- Who did I hurt by doing this and how badly?
- Who did I help by doing this and how much?
- What were the assets consumed by this endeavor, and once used, are they gone forever?
- Will this be time well spent, however long it will take?
- Will I regret this forever or take pride in it with me to my grave?
- Is this endeavor improving or damaging the Universe as I know it?
- *Does doing this give me any sort of satisfaction? *This question is only applicable to non-sociopaths.